Sunday, April 22, 2018

Grilled Cheese and Soup Pairings #SundaySupper Creamy Tomato-Basil Bisque with Garlicky Grilled Cheese Croutons

After a lengthy medical hiatus, I'm excited to officially be back participating in #SundaySupper -- which is one of my favorite blogging activities! I picked a great week to jump back onboard, too. This week, #SundaySupper is sharing Grilled Cheese and Soup Pairing recipes to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month in April! Grilled cheese is a classic comfort food, going back to childhood. What's not to like about buttery, toasted bread filled with gooey melted cheese?!?!?

There are tons of great soup pairings for grilled cheese, but tomato soup is definitely the best known. Today, I'm sharing a grown-up version of this classic pairing. My Creamy Tomato-Basil Bisque with Garlicky Grilled Cheese Croutons is full of robust flavors...and an over-the-top grilled cheese sandwich is cut into cheesy, bite-size "croutons" that garnish the rich, creamy tomato bisque. The bisque is my tweak on a copycat recipe of La Madeleine's iconic Tomato-Basil Soupe.

My grilled cheese croutons contain four...yes, FOUR!!...types of cheese -- Colby Jack, Swiss, mozzarella, and parmesan -- for an explosion of cheesy goodness! To up the flavor quotient even more, the bread is spread with garlic-infused butter before being toasted in a non-stick pan. 

Creamy Tomato-Basil Bisque with Garlicky Grilled Cheese Croutons
Bisque Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients (makes approx. 6 cups):
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 2 cups chicken stock 
  • 2 tbs. olive oil [NOTE: I used olive oil infused with basil to really highlight the bisque's basil flavor]
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 8-10 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cream (or half and half)
  • 3 tbs. butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste
For the garlicky grilled cheese croutons:
  • Four slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices Colby Jack cheese
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tbs. butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or very finely minced
  • 1 tsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Heat the olive oil over med-high heat in a Dutch oven for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic. Sautee 1-2 minutes. Pour the juice from ONE can of the tomatoes into a measuring cup with a 4-cup capacity -- you should have 2 cups of juice. Add the chicken stock to the tomato juice to make 4 cups total of liquid. Drain and discard the juice from the second can of tomatoes -- or free for later use. Roughly crush the whole tomatoes with pristinely clean hands. Add to the Dutch oven, along with the juice-broth mixture. Stir to combine, then simmer the soup for 30 minutes. 

Step 2: Puree 4 cups of the soup in 2-cup batches, along with the basil, in a blender. Add the pureed soup to the remaining soup in the Dutch oven. The texture you prefer will determine how much you blend; i.e., if you prefer a smooth bisque, puree all of the bisque. [NOTE: an immersion blender also works great for this step if you have one]. Return the pureed soup to the Dutch oven. Add the cream and butter, whisking constantly over Low heat so the soup doesn't break. Turn off heat and cover Dutch oven while you make the grilled cheese croutons.

Step 3: Add the softened butter, garlic, parsley, and parmesan to a small bowl; stir to combine. Place two bread slices on a small cutting board; top one piece of bread with a slice of Colby Jack and the other piece with a slice of Swiss cheese. Carefully sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella on top of the cheddar and place the bread with the Swiss cheese on top to form a sandwich. Repeat the process with the remaining slices of bread and cheese.

Step 4: Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. While the pan heats, spread one quarter of the garlic butter mixture on the top of each sandwich. Place each sandwich butter side down in the hot pan. Spread the remaining garlic butter mixture on the top of each sandwich in the pan. Cook until the underside is golden and toasty -- approximately 2 minutes. Flip the sandwiches over and toast the other side. Let the finished sandwiches cool for five minutes before cutting into croutons.

Step 5: After 5 minutes, cut each grilled cheese sandwich into 12 cubes. To assemble, ladle the tomato bisque into serving 3-4 serving bowls. Top with an equal amount of the grilled cheese croutons in the center of each bowl.

This soup is so good -- the tomato-basil bisque is richly creamy and downright addictive. Add in the garlicky grilled cheese croutons, and you're in comfort food heaven! Feel free to play around with the trio of cheeses I used to incorporate what you prefer...or happen to have on hand. This dish is perfect for a relaxing weekend brunch or a meatless Monday dinner. The tomato-basil bisque can easily be made 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator to streamline dinner prep the next day.
This week's #SundaySupper participants are sharing their favorite grilled cheese and soup combos. Be sure to click the link to check them out!

Sunday Supper Grilled Cheese and Soup Pairings
Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Be sure to also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and meal inspiration. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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